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Iran Press TV

Biden slams Turkey for curtailing freedom of expression

Iran Press TV

Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:12AM

US Vice President Joe Biden has warned Turkey over its crackdown on freedom of expression, saying the strength of Turkey's democracy has a direct impact on its ties with America.

Biden who is on a two-day visit in Turkey, criticized the NATO ally for setting a poor example for the region in intimidating media, limiting internet freedom and accusing academics of treason, according to Reuters.

"When the media are intimidated or imprisoned for critical reporting, when internet freedom is curtailed and social media sites...are shut down and more than 1,000 academics are accused of treason simply by signing a petition, that's not the kind of example that needs to be set,' he told reporters on Friday.

'If you do not have the ability to express your own opinion, to criticize policy, offer competing ideas without fear of intimidation or retribution, then your country is being robbed of opportunity,' he added.

Biden visited the family of jailed journalist Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, who was arrested in November over the publication of footage purporting to show the Turkish intelligence agency helping send weapons to Syria.

He also met with prominent journalists who were sacked over the past year, following critical coverage of the then-Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the government.

This is while during the early years of rule, Washington cited Turkey as an example of Islamic democracy in the Middle East.

Recently, however, reforms have faltered and Erdogan, who is now the country's president, has demonstrated a more authoritarian style.

Last week, he denounced as 'dark, nefarious and brutal' prominent US scholar Noam Chomsky and 1,000 other signatories of a letter that urged Ankara to end its siege of Kurdish towns and cities in the southeastern parts of the country.

Turkish security forces briefly detained 27 academics on charges of promoting terrorist propaganda. Dozens more face investigation by their universities.

Biden, who earlier visited the site of a suicide bombing, blamed Daesh (ISIL) that killed 10 German tourists last week.

He will meet Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday.

Talks are expected to focus on Syrian border security and the role of US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters in the fight against the terror group. Turkey fears Kurdish advances will fuel separatist sentiment among its Kurdish minority.

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